Another Gift of the Magi, Part V, Grandfather Asks about the Tiny Bike
By Algie Ray Smith

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

This is Part V, the conclusion, of “Another Gift of the Magi, a Christmas Story.” For background on the series see Part I  at II at III at and Part IV at

Grandfather had finished his story. He left the comfortable sofa and stood before the shelf where the tiny bike sat in all its regal splendor. The other customer, a Mrs. Dennison from the Lewis burg Road area, had long departed, but the saleslady had waited until Grandfather had finished speaking to Marc before she joined him. “Is there anything in particular up there you’d like to see?” She asked.

Grandfather’s eye lit up and his nose twitched. “Yes. That little bike. How much is it?”

The lady took the bike from the shelf and handed it to Grandfather. “I don’t know…really. I haven’t priced it…or actually made up my mind to part with it. I saw one like it on the Antiques Roadshow, and I believe the dealer said it was worth over a hundred dollars. It’s a salesman’s sample….from the late 40’s, if my memory serves me correctly.”

 Marc joined the old couple.

 “Yes, the 40’s…that’s exactly right. That estimate was on TV; this is me. You know it’s always been a puzzle when the antique dealer puts a price on something, but doesn’t make an offer. If I had one of those $15,000 oil paintings, I doubt if they would give me a thousand dollars for it.”

The lady eyed Grandfather curiously, but before she could speak, Grandfather continued, “Now, I’m for real…standing right in front of you. How much will you take for the bike? Cash on the barrel head.”

“May I tell you the history of the bike…how I happen to have it here in the store?”

“By all means,” Grandfather winked at Marc. “I’d love to hear it.”

The lady cleared her throat, and with the sweep of her hand about the room, she began. “This building once housed my father’s hardware store. He had an office in the back, and this little bike once sat on his desk. He didn’t display it again because….”

“Your father had a store here? Right here? Was it called Timmon’s…something or other?”

The lady smiled broadly. “Timmon’s Trinket Shop. I was but a little girl, but I helped him pick out the name. My mother, rest her soul, thought he should name it something else, but Dad wouldn’t hear it, so Timmon’s Trinket Shop it was.”

“When was that?”

“Well, for a long time; I’m not sure, but Dad was here until 1962. Then he and Mom decided to move to warmer climes…to Florida.”

“About the little bike….”

The lady interrupted, “What I recall, some many years back when I was in boarding school, I would come home a week before Christmas and help Dad in the store. My dad had gotten the bike from a salesman and decided to use in his front window Christmas display. A few days before Christmas a lady came in and asked Dad to sell her the bike…and he did! Seems she had an urgent need for it…..a Christmas present.”

Grandfather gasped. Was it possible? Was this the same little bike that once had rested under his own Christmas tree? He didn’t say anything. He feared the lady wouldn’t believe him. He wasn’t so sure he believed it himself. “But if the lady purchased the bike, how did it come back into your father’s possession””

“I was nearby, but the lady didn’t notice me. I was taking inventory for the New Year. I heard the lady’s story about her husband’s accident and how hard a time she was having. My father, truly, had tears in his eyes when the woman left with her treasure. I was touched with my father’s caring for the lady’s plight.

“He and I decided to make a secret pact. It would be our chance to play Santa Claus. We would become reverse burglars. Instead of breaking in and taking something from a house, we would break in and leave something. Of course, we didn’t have to actually break in. In those days hardly anyone ever locked their doors. The lady’s front door opened right up for us.

“So Dad dressed up in a Santa suit and I dressed up as an case we were caught we thought we could explain it away; but we weren’t caught, of course. We slipped into the lady’s house and left a brand new Murray bike for the little one. And to make it look more like a miracle, I ripped open the package holding the little bike, leaving the wrappings on the floor. That way it would seem that the little bike grew into a regular sized one and burst out of the wrappings.

“Before I went back to boarding school, Dad had me promise to tell no one, not even Mother.”

“But times were hard back then,” Grandfather puzzled. “How could your dad afford to give away a brand new bike?”

“Oh, you see that was another thing that just happened. When the shipment of bikes came that afternoon, the girls’ bike was out of stock. And to make this up to Dad because he already had a buyer for it…since he was such a good customer, the company gave Dad another bike for free.”

Grandfather shook his hand. “That would never happen today.”

Marc saw that Grandfather had tears in his old eyes. “Are you okay, Ol Pa?”

“I’m fine.” He turned to the lady. “We came in for a Tiffany lamp that you had in the window…”

“Oh, I have that in the backroom. I’ve been cleaning it. Want me to get it for you?”

Grandfather replied haltingly. “Well, we did come in for the Tiffany, but how about you pricing the bike and the Tiffany. We’d like to buy them both. You see I was that little boy whose mother purchased that bike. I would really love to own it again after all this time.”

“You know, for some strange reason, I had a suspicion that you were the boy. You have a certain look in your eyes. Plus back then I remember seeing you around.”

“But you were older,” Grandfather offered.

“Oh, only a year or two, I’ll bet.”

She hesitated but a moment. “Tell you what. Give me $200 for the lamp, and I’ll give the little bike to your grandson. I’m sure he has more time to enjoy it than you and I do.”

Then the lady produced another object…a small boat. “This is a model of the 1936 boat THE HUSKY CLIPPER in which the boys from the University of Washington won the 1936 Olympic. Dad got this on a business trip to Seattle some time back. I’ll throw in the boat, too….as a Christmas gift.”

Grandfather lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree and extended his hand. “You got yourself a deal!”

He gave the lady two of the crisp new hundred dollar bills and winked at Marc before he turned again to the lady. “Say, I don’t see a ring on your finger. What are you doing for Christmas?”

“Oh, not married now, not for some time. I’ll probably spend Christmas reading a good book and maybe heat up a turkey and dressing microwave dinner.”

Grandfather didn’t falter. “Well, say, why don’t you come over to my daughter’s house for Christmas dinner? She’s an excellent cook. And Marc and I would love to hear you tell the story of the little bike to her.”

“Ol Pa’s right,” Marc nodded. “Mom’s pineapple ham is the best.”

The lady laughed. “Why not? I’m honored by the invitation…if you’re sure Marc’s mother won’t mind.”

Marc hastily replied, “Mom always says, ‘The more the merrier at Christmas. Please come.”

The lady nodded. “I will…but say I don’t even know your names, your address.”

Before grandfather gave the address, he smiled sheepishly. “And may I inquire of your name. It will be much more of the Christmas way if I tell my daughter who is coming for dinner.”

The lady extended her hand. “I’m Caroline. And you?”

“Just call me Johnny…my friends all do.”

They shook hands…warmly. Grandfather would always remember that first touch, how tender, firm, and affectionate her embrace felt.

On their way home Marc asked, “Ol Pa, when Caroline comes over for Christmas dinner, will that be like a date…you know a boy-girl type thing?”

Grandfather grinned. He was, indeed, a sly old dog. “Yes, it will, my young lad; I certainly hope it will.”

“We hardly know her…..”

“Oh, let’s not start on that, Marc. Mother once told me that wonderful things happen at CHRISTMAS.”

((And, dear readers, don’t you agree that CHRISTMAS ITSELF IS THE MOST WONDERFUL OF ALL THINGS?))






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